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Q & A From Webinar—Workplace Violence: Prevention and Response, featuring Implications of Ontario Bill 168

This information offers general comments on legal developments of concern to businesses. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of this information. These responses are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinions. The reader should always obtain legal advice from a qualified lawyer or other qualified professional who will be responsive to the case or circumstance of the individual. Please note that the content provided in this information is provided ‘as is’ without representations or warranties of any kind. All representations and warranties with respect to content express or implied, including without limitation, any representations to warranties or conditions regarding accuracy, timeliness, completeness, non-infringement, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose are hereby disclaimed.

 

A. WEBINAR

  1. Does the webinar meet the requirements of Bill 168? The webinar served as a broad overview of the topic of workplace violence prevention and Ontario Bill 168. While the webinar provided valuable information and resources, it was not a complete CPI training program. We encourage you to participate in one of CPI’s upcoming programs to benefit more fully from the knowledge, skills, resources, and services CPI offers in helping to meet and exceed these requirements. CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template will assist participating organizations to incorporate CPI best practices into your own policies and procedures in meeting this requirement under Bill 168.

B. Bill 168 PROVISIONS

  1. As you view violence as a continuum, can you comment on how this fits with the Bill 168 slot between workplace violence and harassment? As you learned during the webinar, CPI supports a fairly broad definition of workplace violence because violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

    The definition of workplace violence provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) speaks to the possibility that any behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person could be considered violence. The definition offered by the International Labour Organization (ILO) includes all forms of harassment, bullying and intimidation, as well as physical assaults or threats of assault. It includes robbery and other types of intrusive behaviours.

    CPI’s Workplace Violence Continuum includes behaviours ranging from discourtesy and disrespect to intimidation, harassment, retaliation, assault, and physical aggression. The behaviours along the continuum can be observed, understood, and influenced. Each category of behaviour identified in our continuum often occurs along with one or more of the other behaviours. Each can also lead to the other, and each can stand distinct from the others as serious workplace issues.

    Prevention efforts involve observing all behaviours along the continuum and responding as early as possible. The earlier we intervene, the safer we will be. All of these behaviours have an impact on an organization’s culture.

    Ontario Bill 168 also considers similar broad definitions of both violence and harassment. The Bill defines workplace violence as the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; or a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

    Bill 168 further defines workplace harassment as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome and that is not already protected under the Human Rights Code.


  2. Does Bill 168 cover all businesses or only those with a minimum number of staff? On January 28, 2010 John Vander Doelen, Director of the Health and Safety Policy and Programs Development Branch, at the Ministry of Labour clarified the applicability of Bill 168. Director Vander Doelen confirmed that all Ontario workplaces to which the Occupational Health and Safety Act currently applies must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workers in the workplace. This includes protecting employees against the risk of workplace violence and harassment.

    This means that no matter what the size of the organization, employers must assess the risk of violence and harassment; take reasonable measures to prevent violent and harassing incidents and protect employees; have measures to report, respond, and investigate incidents of violence and harassment; and provide training and education to employees.

    The only measure that does not apply to workplaces with five or fewer regular employees is the obligation to have the violence and harassment policies in writing and posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace. However, note that an inspector can order a workplace with less than five employees to have these policies if there is evidence of the risk of workplace violence and harassment or after an incident occurs.


  3. I am confused about the bill. Does workplace violence and Bill 168 refer to staff abusing staff, as well as outsiders abusing staff? Ontario Bill 168 refers to types of violence by a person against a worker, in a workplace. It does not identify or differentiate who that “person” could be or the role the person might play with respect to the organization’s work.

    Please note that CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template suggests that all internal and external customers should be expected to follow your organization’s policies, procedures, codes of conduct, applicable law, and other expectations related to their behaviour in any work areas or context related to your work. We further suggest that this would include all consumers, employees, volunteers, contracted and temporary employees, managers, supervisors, directors, executives, and officers.


  4. How will Bill 168 relate to employees going to workplaces that are not owned or operated by the employer? Ontario Bill 168 refers to risks of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, the type of work, or the conditions of work. It does not identify or differentiate specific locations or work sites relative to the organization’s work.  

    Please note that CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template suggests that your organization’s policies and procedures should apply not only during working time and at specific work locations, but also to any activities or contexts on or off of the organization’s premises which could reasonably be associated with the workplace. (e.g., business travel, social events, etc.) or in any location related to the work of the organization.


  5. A. Can you review the employee right to refusal; what employees are and are not allowed to refuse, etc.?

    B. For clarification, do employees have the right to refuse to work under Bill 168 only after an incident has occurred, or instead have the right to refuse to work if they fear a potential threat?

    Bill 168 amends the work refusal section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers will have a right to refuse to work if they believe workplace violence is likely to endanger them. Bill 168 permits a worker to refuse to work or perform particular work where he or she has reason to believe that workplace violence is likely to endanger the worker. If the worker refuses to work, or do particular work, the worker will still be required to promptly report the circumstances of the refusal. However, Bill 168 now requires the worker to remain in a safe place that is “as near as reasonably possible to his or her work station,” and available to the employer or supervisor for the purposes of an investigation. The Occupational Health and Safety Act exempts certain workers from refusing to work when an unsafe condition is inherent in the worker’s work, is a normal condition of the worker’s employment, or when the worker’s refusal to work would directly endanger the life, health, or safety of another person.


  6. The legislation requires risk assessments of each workplace specifically focusing on violence. What is the best way to get this done when you have multiple workplaces?

    CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template suggests that organizations work with internal or external specialists to review, analyze, and objectively measure any factors that could contribute to the possibility of exposure to assault, violence, or threats of violence for each work site and work context in which your work is engaged.

    The assessment should include a review of any available records and documentation, a review of past incidents, a site-specific security analysis, and to then recommend steps to address, reduce, eliminate, or mitigate identified risk areas.
     
    In conducting this risk assessment, the perspective of internal and external customers at all levels should be taken into consideration in evaluating possible exposure to assaults, violence, and threats of violence.

    Risk assessment of all areas of your work environment should occur as often as necessary to keep employees safe. Each assessment should take into account the nature of the work performed in specific areas or contexts, the history of incidents in those areas or contexts, and industry trends involving types of risks faced by employees engaged in similar work environments or contexts. Beyond these identified intervals, risk assessments should also take place at any point in which a major change takes place in the involved area or context (examples include changes in employment status, changes in employee work schedules, construction, remodelling, downsizing, acquisitions, etc.).

    The risk assessment process should be fluid and ongoing. Ongoing assessment should include regular surveys of internal and external customers aimed at seeking out their concerns related to factors involving respect, service, and safety in all areas of your work.

    Organizations engaged in work at more than one location or in more than one context may need to conduct multiple risk assessment activities relative to those locations and contexts.


  7. Are specific employees or specific types of work at higher risk for workplace violence?

    While not an exclusive list, those individuals at highest risk for assault, violence, and threats of violence include anyone having contact with the public in any capacity; involved in the exchange of money; who may deliver passengers, goods, or services; who may work alone or in small numbers; who works late night or early morning hours; or who works in high-crime areas.

C. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

  1. A. We are still not understanding what domestic violence is in the workplace.

    B. Does the term domestic violence mean something that stems from personal issues at home or between coworkers?

    C. What are the responsibilities if domestic violence has been identified and the employee refuses help? And what degree of help is expected by the bill?

    With regard to domestic violence, Bill 168 states that if an employer is aware or ought to be aware that domestic violence is likely to expose a worker to physical injury that may occur in the workplace, the employer must take every reasonable precaution to protect the worker. Bill 168 does not define domestic violence and does not specify what constitutes reasonable precautions on the part of the employer.

    Domestic violence relates to the workplace on many levels. One of the primary reasons for this involves the fact that the workplace often represents a safe environment for targets of domestic violence and, therefore, may also represent an impediment or even a threat to the abuser. Targets are frequently at risk while working and internal and external customers may be at risk by default.

    CPI suggests that organizations adopt a broad and diverse definition of domestic violence in order to accommodate the wide range of personal relationships that may be represented by an employee population. 

    CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template defines domestic violence as assaultive, threatening, or violent behaviour that functions to dominate, control, or punish another individual involved in a past or present actual, perceived, or potential close relationship with the abuser. Domestic violence can include physical, sexual, and psychological battering.

    It is certainly an employee’s right to decline formal and informal offers of assistance, and this is always a possibility. CPI still suggests that organizations commit to heightening awareness of domestic violence and to providing guidance for employees and management to address the occurrence of domestic violence and its effects on the workplace. One step toward this goal is to publish, maintain, and post in locations of high visibility, a list of resources for targets and perpetrators of domestic violence.


  2. A. Are employers responsible to notify authorities when the staff member does not notify them of domestic violence?

    B. If an employee reports domestic violence and is attacked by the significant other either in his/her car in the parking lot or after leaving the property to go home, where does our liability begin and end?

    C. How do you deal with situations where both parties are employees in the same building, but there is no carryover of the domestic violence at work?

    D. What happens if limiting access to the employee while at work escalates the violence at home?

    E. If an employee is on call and domestic violence tends to arise relating to these calls, what are obligations of the employer to protect worker not yet on site?

    These examples represent specific questions describing individual events that are best addressed by legal counsel. CPI advises organizations to consult with your organization’s corporate counsel on specific legal questions and practices.

D. WORKPLACE BULLYING

  1. I work in an outreach centre with high-risk youth. We are experiencing bullying through various types of electronic means. Does your training address this issue? Workplace bullying is often hard to identify—and even harder to manage. It comes in many forms, including through electronic means. These can include telephone, facsimile, websites, blogs, instant messages, text messages, and many others.

    Keep in mind that CPIs Workplace Violence Continuum includes behaviours ranging from discourtesy and disrespect to intimidation, harassment, retaliation, assault, and physical aggression. We address workplace harassment or bullying on two levels:

    CPI’s Matters at Work series of seminars is taught exclusively by subject matter experts from the professional staff of the Crisis Prevention Institute. Within this series, our four-hour Workplace Bullying seminar provides awareness about workplace harassment/bullying that will help proactive employees influence and manage the risks, as well as understand the nature and bottom-line impact. This includes harassment/bullying communicated in any way, including through electronic means. Participants in this seminar also receive CPI’s Workplace Bullying Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template as a benefit of participation.

    CPI Certified Instructors are empowered to teach our Workplace Bullying Topic Module. This two-hour training module helps participants recognize the many faces of workplace harassment and bullying, understand the impact on an organization, and develop strategies for creating and maintaining a more respectful, service-oriented, and safe workplace that embraces a philosophy of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM.


  2. Can hiring practices that encourage hiring "bullies" as promotable leaders in organizations perpetuate the culture of violence in workplaces? CPI advises that organizations follow effective screening and hiring practices and exercise care in checking references. Physical aggression isn’t necessarily an inevitable result of harassment or bullying. It is always a possibility, especially with individuals having a predisposition to physical aggression and violence. At the same time, CPI considers any discourteous, disrespectful, intimidating, harassing, retaliatory, or assaultive behaviour as part of the overall picture of workplace violence. 

E. STATISTICS

  1. A. Are these Ontario statistics being cited?

    B. Can you quantify the numbers cited in the statistics?

    C. What type of workplace environments are these stats pulled from?

    The Crisis Prevention Institute serves a worldwide audience and relies on a wide range of respected and credible resources in conducting our own research. We did consult several Canadian sources in designing the recent webinar. We are happy to provide these to our webinar participants:
    • According to a General Social Survey by Statistics Canada, 17% of all self-reported incidents of violent victimization, including sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault, happened at work. This represents over 356,000 violent workplace incidents in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2007).
    • From April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, Ontario Ministry of Labour Inspectors made 417 field visits and issued 351 orders related to violence in the workplace. (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2009).
    • There is evidence that violence has increased in Canadian workplaces: 66% of organizations report an increase in aggressive acts within their workplaces, and 82% report an increase in both formal incident reports and grievances (2000 - Canadian Initiative on Workplace Violence).
    • In 2007, there were 2,150 allowed lost-time claims from assaults, violent acts, harassment, and acts of war or terrorism in Ontario (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, 2007).
    • Bullied employees waste 10-52% of their time at work. Research shows they spend time defending themselves and networking for support, thinking about the situation, being de-motivated and stressed, not to mention taking sick leave due to stress-related illnesses (Canada Safety Council, 2000).
    • Employees are losing productive work days, and organizations are paying for it. The annual tab for violence and stress—inducing hostility in the workplace—comes to about $13.5 billion in medical costs, and 500,000 workers missing 1.75 million days of work (National Center for Health Statistics, 2002).
    • The Workplace Violence Research Institute estimated the aggregate cost of workplace violence to be more than $36 billion dollars as a result of expenses associated with lost business, litigation, medical care, psychiatric care, higher insurance rates, increased security measures, negative publicity, and loss of employees. (Workplace Violence Research Institute, 1994).

F. TRAINING

  1. Does CPI training meet the requirements of Bill 168? Ontario Bill 168 places many obligations on Ontario employers, including assessing the level of risk of violence in a workplace, providing written policies to deal with the risk, requiring the implementation of programs aimed at reducing all types of violence and harassment in Ontario workplaces, and obliging employers to report incidents when they occur. There is also a proactive obligation on employers to take preventive measures should violence or harassment appear likely to occur within the workplace. 

    This means that no matter the size of the organization, employers must assess the risk of violence and harassment; take reasonable measures to prevent violent and harassing incidents and protect employees; have measures to report, respond, and investigate incidents of violence and harassment; and provide training and education to employees.

    CPI training programs can help Ontario employers meet and exceed these obligations. There is no one answer and no real magic formula in addressing these devastating workplace problems. CPI teaches highly effective strategies in addressing the prevention of and response to workplace violence and harassment.


  2. Who do you recommend attend training? Workplace violence and harassment can occur anytime, anywhere, within large and small organizations. CPI recommends that all employees at all levels receive training in recognizing the potential for violence; appropriate employee response to violent incidents, including an outline of expectations, rights, and responsibilities; relevant policies in place by your organization for preparing for, responding to, and following up violent incidents; specific procedures for obtaining immediate medical assistance and other follow-up resources that your organization makes available to employees after an incident.


  3. What type of employee training is recommended? Employee training should be skill based and emphasize prevention as the primary goal. Training should help employees recognize early warning signs and respond appropriately in an effort to de-escalate possible problems.

    CPI’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure Template provides guidance around additional strategies and topics relative to employee training.


  4. What is the difference between the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program and the Prepare Training® program?

    Both programs are built on CPI’s principles, techniques, and over 30 years of experience providing training in our proven strategies to organizations throughout the world.

    Instructor certification is offered through both the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program and the Prepare Training® program. This type of training develops a team of organization “experts” to assess and address ongoing training efforts to improve respect, service, and safety throughout the workplace. It is the most cost-effective means of cascading the training content throughout the organization and offers you the ability to schedule training as it works within your schedule. Certified Instructors receive ongoing support and state-of the-art research and resources to support the Training Process within your organization.

    Different organizations may find one or both programs fulfill your needs. Both are further described below:

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training Program

CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program is a holistic behaviour management system based on the philosophy of providing the best Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM for staff and those in their care, even during the most violent moments. Typical organizations that utilize the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program are hospitals, long-term care facilities, mental health facilities, district school boards, and other types of human services.
 

The program focuses on preventing disruptive behaviour by communicating with individuals respectfully and with concern for their well-being. The program teaches physical interventions only as a last resort—when an individual presents an imminent danger to self or others. All physical interventions taught are designed to be nonharmful, noninvasive, and to maintain the individual’s dignity. Follow-up debriefing strategies are also key components of the training program.
 

Some benefits of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training include:

  • Reducing the risk of injury by decreasing the number of physical interventions.
  • Improving communication among staff by establishing a common language.
  • Boosting staff confidence to intervene both verbally and physically.
  • Alleviating the stress and anxiety associated with confusion or uncertainty in crisis moments.
  • Minimizing the risk of potential liability.
  • Improving staff retention by providing the skills necessary to manage difficult situations.
  • Service users become active participants in the debriefing process, learn new coping skills, and receive staff guidance about making positive behaviour choices in the future.

Additional information about CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program is available at www.crisisprevention.com.
 

Prepare Training® Program

CPI’s Prepare Training® program is typically utilized within organizations such as higher education, government, retail, libraries, transportation, and hospitality and entertainment, both public and private companies, to name a few. The philosophy of this program is Respect, Service, and Safety at Work® for both internal and external and customers with an emphasis on maintaining and preserving customer relationships and service recovery when problematic situations do occur.
 

The Foundation of the Prepare Training® program involves:

  • Learning how crisis situations develop and evolve.
  • Examining how nonverbal and verbal communication can impact a crisis situation.
  • Practicing de-escalation strategies.
  • Learning how to set limits with individuals who are verbally aggressive or noncompliant.
  • Learning how to maintain professionalism during confrontations.

The program also offers specific Topic Modules such as:

  • Giving Bad News
  • Violence Response Procedures
  • Workplace Bullying
  • Negotiating Your Way Through Conflict
  • And many others

Benefits of the program include:

  • Establishing adaptable solutions to prevent and effectively manage disruptive or dangerous situations.
  • Strengthening and preserving valuable employee and patron relationships.
  • Aiding in employee retention and service recovery when problematic situations damage relations.
  • Promoting the utilization of relevant policies and procedures.
  • Encouraging practice and drills of emergency procedures specific to organizational needs.
  • Decreasing the risk of injury and litigation.
  • Improving productivity and lowering absenteeism.

Additional information about CPI’s Prepare Training® program is available at www.crisisprevention.com.

  1. How long is the train the trainer program? The length of the Instructor Certification Program varies with each program. It is four days for the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program and three days for the Prepare Training® program.

G. OTHER QUESTIONS

  1. How would we deal with seniors who have dementia/Alzheimer’s – there may not be room for reasoning with such clients. How can caregivers from our company prepare themselves for that apart from evaluate and identify issues?

    There are many individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. As the disease advances, the world may become over-challenging causing the individual to feel worried, helpless, lost, empty, scared, bored, or depressed. This can often present both opportunities and challenges for caregivers.  

    Dementia Care Specialists (DCS) is a CPI specialized offering. DCS provides training that embraces a person-centered approach to dementia care to help answer this and other questions related to this issue.

    Additional information about Dementia Care Specialists is available at www.crisisprevention.com.